As Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill stood on the portico of the White House on the night of December 22nd, they would be looking out on a world that had dramatically changed in two short weeks. It is equally remarkable that these two "chess masters" would be the catalysts for the major events that will occur over the next four years.
Winston Churchill is arrogant, pig-headed, temperamental...and brilliant at grasping the realities of lightning changes....then moving his own pawns to counter those of his adversaries. A brilliant orator, he is perhaps the only Brit alive who could have steered Britain through the storms of catastrophic war.
Franklin Roosevelt is a rich "momma's boy" from Hyde Park. Both his personal and professional life is turbulent as he must juggle his womanizing while accommodating the co-habitation of a lesbian First Lady. Having never had to worry where his next meal is coming from, he must, none the less, find a way to feed 30 million starving Americans. He must find a way to raise the nation's morale by creating federally funded "make work", and he must oh so subtly steer America toward a war platform when America is as pacifist as she has ever been.
But now, as these two giants stand out on the portico of the White house, the tide of events in the past two weeks will change them, the world, and America forever.
Soon the two men will retreat to the personal living quarters of the White House. While Roosevelt is checking in with Eleanor, Churchill will be shown his room by a White House servant. Churchill will belt out specific orders for his meal choices, demand brandy with his morning coffee and 25 year old Scotch to fuel his late night planning sessions.
In the next few days Churchill will travel up to Canada, to show the Union Jack for the "colonials". He will then return to the White House where he will throw the Presidential household into nocturnal turbulence. Attracting the ire of Eleanor, Churchill will keep Franklin up till all hours of the night, as they meet with America's leading industrialists, War Department leaders, all the while working to charm the American press to promote allied unity of purpose. He will suffer a minor heart attack one evening as he tries to open his bedroom window and clear a bit of the incessant cigar smoke he generates as he tromps back and forth preparing his Congressional speech. One evening he's soaking his corpulence in the bath, then enlists his house servant's assistance in pulling his girth from the tub, and continues to practice his speech while walking back and forth in a huge bath towel. When FDR enters the room Churchill drops his towel and proclaims to FDR "see here my friend, proof that I have nothing to hide from you!".
And the advantages of his months long occupation of the White House will far outweigh the hell raising "ass pain" he inflicts on FDR and staff. Churchill, being immersed in war for nearly two years, will awaken America's leaders to the frightening realities of the Axis' cycle of destruction. Churchill and FDR will wheel around massively drawn maps of the conflict and discuss strategy. When War Department planners contemplate the need for perhaps 1,000 tanks Churchill will chillingly utter "we lost 3,000 tanks in a single battle at......" and bring forth the reality of the massive logistics requirements this world war will demand. Churchill will say again and again that, to defeat the enemy, America will have to ramp up the American "war machine" to levels unprecedented in human history.
War planners are stunned. America's industrialists say it can't be done. Churchill will stand firm on his estimates and, in the end, America will prove in the coming years that she is indeed capable of meeting, and surpassing those ambitious goals.
American auto production will be halted for the duration of the war. Ford and General Motors and Chrysler will convert production lines to turn out airplanes and jeeps and tanks and trucks and all manner of war hardware. Shipyards all across America will rebuild America's navy, expand it, causing it to surpass the tonnage of all the navies in history. American factories will halt the production of Arrow shirts and convert toward making military uniforms for million man armies. Food rationing will be placed in effect with all food production being targeted toward feeding those million man armies. Cooking oil, newspapers, scrap iron will be collected off the streets of America, then flow to defense plants where we will turn "plow shares into weapons of war".
In Part III, the final part of this essay, we'll crunch the numbers on America's miraculous war machine, just to illustrate what is possible when a nation is unified in a common and noble cause. And we'll look at the after affects of that historic national performance, how our World War II industrial performance boosted America to post-war super power status, and how our war time achievements led to three decades of national wealth building unsurpassed in human history!